PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Knight at 7:02 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Lewis led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Karp, Lewis, Perestam, Ruttenberg, Tetreault, Vice Chairman Gerstner, and Chairman Knight.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Fox, and Associate Planner Sohn.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The Planning Commission unanimously agreed to amend the Agenda to hear items 4,3, 1, 2, 5 and 6.
Director Rojas distributed two items of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 1, five items for Agenda tem No. 2 and two items for Agenda Item No. 3.
Director Rojas reported that at the November 7th City Council meeting the City Council continued the cargo container item to December 6th and denied the appellant’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to deny a Variance for a wall in the Oceanfront Tract.
Chairman Knight received a phone call from the appellant of a future Planning Commission item. He also spoke to the Dean at Marymount College, but not about their proposed expansion project.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items)
4. Mandatory AB 1234 Training
Director Rojas explained that there is a Mandatory AB 1234 Training for the Planning Commission and staff was recommending the training take place two hours prior to the November 28th Planning Commission meeting.
Commissioner Perestam and Chairman Knight stated that they would not be able to attend the training on November 28th, however all of the Commissioners would be available prior to the December 12th meeting.
Director Rojas stated that staff will check with the City Attorney, and if the City Attorney is available that night staff will reschedule the training to two hours prior to the December 12th Planning Commission meeting.
3. Conditional Use Permit Revision (Case No. ZON2006-00372): The Terraces
Associate Planner Sohn presented the staff report, explaining that Sylvan Learning Center has requested a revision to the existing Conditional Use Permit to allow for private education uses as a permitted use in the shopping center. She explained that staff has determined there is adequate parking available at the Center to accommodate this type of use. She stated that staff was able to make necessary findings regarding this proposed use and was therefore recommending approval of the revision to the Conditional Use Permit.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Milton Schrader 5519 Roma Street, Torrance, stated that he was available to answer any questions.
Commissioner Karp asked if there was any reason the staff and clients couldn’t park on the third level.
Mr. Schrader answered that he would be happy to encourage the staff and clients to park on the third level.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Ruttenberg moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-55 thereby approving the revision to the Conditional Use Permit as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Karp.
Commissioner Karp moved to amend the motion to require the employees and participants to park and be dropped off on the third level.
Vice Chairman Gerstner questioned why Commissioner Karp felt it was necessary to park on the third level.
Commissioner Karp explained that there is quite a bit of traffic on the second level and that this use may cause parking problems on the second level. He felt that requiring parking on the third level, with the stairwell immediately adjacent to the business, will create little parking impact on the center and will not impede other occupants of the center.
Commissioner Ruttenberg stated he would accept the amendment if it were limited to employees only.
Vice Chairman Gerstner stated that the shopping center management regulates the parking and he did not think it was within the Planning Commission’s purview to determine where the business patrons should park.
Chairman Knight asked if there were any other conditions in the Conditional Use Permit requiring employees of other businesses in the center to park in a designated area.
Associate Planner Sohn answered that there were no such conditions.
The motion to amend the original motion failed due to the lack of a second.
The motion to approve the Conditional Use revision as presented by staff was approved, (6-0).
1. Height Variation and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2006-00015): 2701
Associate Planner Fox presented the staff report, giving a brief history of the project and issues raised by the Planning Commission at previous meetings. He began with the issue of additional single story expansion, explaining that based on the location of the Open Space Hazard boundary and the top of the extreme slope, the Development Code would permit structures up to the OH boundary and up to 5 feet from the top of the slope. He stated that area could possibly accommodate a single story addition, however he noted that there is not yet approved geology for the area and therefore staff did not know if it was feasible or infeasible to allow development on that portion of the property. He discussed the possible privacy infringement to 2700 San Ramon Drive, explaining that the windows proposed on the windows on the second story façade facing the residence are proposed to be obscure glass and will not provide view opportunities to the adjacent home. With respect to the proposed deck, staff does not think the deck overlooks the primary outdoor living area at 2700 San Ramon Drive. He explained the new revised project, explaining that staff no longer feels the project results in significant view impairment for the view from 2749 San Ramon Drive, however staff continues to believe there is significant impairment to the house at 2727 and 2723 San Ramon Drive. He also discussed cumulative view impacts, showing photographs of the neighboring homes and how there is a potential for cumulative view impacts. Therefore, staff was recommending denial of the project, without prejudice, noting there is still the possibility that a smaller second story addition could potentially be acceptable and create minimal view impairment that could be supported.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Bill Pratley 2701 San Ramon Drive (applicant) read a letter to the Planning Commission in which he explained that one of the most important factors in purchasing their home was that there were no regulations regarding second story additions in their CC&Rs and that 3 of the 4 existing second story homes on San Ramon Drive are within 5 houses of his home. He was disappointed that staff was still recommending denial, as he felt the redesign of the home satisfies concerns regarding bulk, mass, and neighborhood compatibility, as well as significant view impacts to 2749 San Ramon Drive. He also stated that he would be willing to trim trees on his property that would significantly open up views for his neighbors. He stated that he has proposed to develop quite a bit of his lot, however he was reluctant to expand too far from the home, as the land is quite unstable. He stated that he has a geology report done at the time he purchased his home stating that. He asked that the Planning Commission consider the modifications that have been made to the plans and approve the proposed project. He noted a City Council decision regarding cumulative view impacts in regards to a second story addition at 2704 San Ramon Drive.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Mr. Pratley if he had the minutes to that City Council meeting.
Mr. Pratley distributed copies of the minutes to the Planning Commission.
Bob Vanderhoof 777 Silver Spur Road RHE (architect) stated that much effort has gone into revising this plan to meet the needs of his client and the concerns of the neighbors. He stated some concern building on the ground floor closer to the canyon.
Sara Doktor 2700 San Ramon Drive stated her concern was with the windows that would overlook her driveway, the entrance to her home and her three bedrooms. She stated that the Pratleys have been very cooperative in taking care of this matter. She asked the Planning Commission approve this proposed addition, noting that it is only fair to allow young people with a growing family develop their property.
John Feyk 2727 San Ramon Drive stated that his concern is the cumulative affect of the second story addition to the neighborhood.
Chairman Knight asked Mr. Feyk if he agreed with the staff report in terms of the affect this addition will have on his property.
Mr. Feyk answered that he agrees with the staff report.
Diane Smith 2704 San Ramon Drive stated that 20 years ago the Planning Commission denied her request for a second story addition on the grounds of cumulative view impacts, however the City Council later overturned that denial and allowed her to build her second story addition. She supports the proposed addition at the Pratley’s residence and felt it would be unfair to deny the project because one neighbor is complaining about the loss of a view from his kitchen door window, especially since they have a spectacular view from their own second story. She also objected that the Pratley’s will have to cut their trees to appease neighbors who did not complain about the trees in the past.
Mr. Pratley (in rebuttal) felt that the picture taken from the neighbor’s kitchen door at 2723 San Ramon Drive is an unfair representation of the view from that area. He noted that 3 of the 4 second story additions on San Ramon are on flag lots which, like his, are set back quite far from the street. He agreed that houses closer to the street adding second story additions will have a problem with cumulative view impact as well as bulk and mass, but did not think this applied to his home.
Commissioner Tetreault asked Mr. Pratley how long he has lived in his house, and in that time if anyone in the community has ever asked him to trim his trees.
Mr. Pratley answered that he has lived in his home for 9 years and in that time he has not been asked to trim his trees.
Commissioner Tetreault asked Mr. Pratley if he has ever trimmed the trees on his property.
Mr. Pratley answered that he has trimmed and laced the trees on his property throughout the years.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff at what height the photograph was taken at the kitchen window at 2723 San Ramon.
Associate Planner Fox stated he was standing at the kitchen door.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff if they had considered, before making the staff recommendation, the history of the height variation at the neighboring property that had been approved, on appeal, by the City Council.
Associate Planner Fox explained that staff researched the other two-story homes in the neighborhood and was aware of the history of the other additions. He explained, however, that staff reviews every height variation application on its own merit and did not give more or less weight to the analysis because of the City Council determination at 2704 San Ramon Drive.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff if they felt their determination on cumulative view impact for this property is consistent with what has already been decided by the City Council.
Associate Planner Fox answered that if looking at only the one height variation approved by the City Council, then the answer is that the determination is not consistent with the determination of a previous City Council determination made 20 years ago. However, he felt that staff’s recommendation is consistent with the analysis done by staff twenty years ago and the determination made by the Planning Commission 20 years ago.
Commissioner Karp questioned how bound the Planning Commission is to previous decisions made on different properties in the neighborhood.
Associate Planner Fox stated that every application is reviewed on its own merits, noting that the unique view issues that will arise from any height variation will vary and every case is different. He also noted that these decisions are very subjective.
Commissioner Perestam felt that the issue in this case is the trees rather than the proposed structure. He stated that from 2727 San Ramon there are four trees that block the view more than the proposed addition. He felt that from 2723 San Ramon there is very little view loss from the proposed addition, noting that more view would be gained from the removal of the trees. Looking at 2749 San Ramon and 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East, he felt again that the removal of the three trees will open a significant view for these residences. He also did not think there was a significant view impact to either of these properties. He explained that because there is no significant view impact, in his opinion, then one cannot make the leap and say there will be a cumulative view impact. Therefore, he was supportive of the proposed project.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he was also concerned about the trees on the property, however these trees did not seem to be an issue to the community for many years. Regarding cumulative view impact, he felt that it is difficult to say that a particular property owner is not going to be allowed to build as they choose because of contingencies that may never occur in the future. He felt that view impacts from this proposed addition are minimal, at best.
Vice Chairman Gerstner also had issues with the view impact of the trees rather than the view impact of the proposed addition. He did not think there would be any type of cumulative view impact with this proposed addition.
Commissioner Karp stated that he was still concerned with the bulk and mass of the house, but understood why it would be difficult to expand further out on the first story. He agreed with the concerns of the other Commissioners regarding the trees on the property.
Commissioner Ruttenberg stated that he did not think there would be significant view impact from this proposed addition to the neighboring properties, and felt that decision is supported by the fact that over the past 9 years there have been no complaints about the existing trees, which he felt impair the view more considerably that the proposed addition would. With regard to significant cumulative impact, he did not feel there would be a significant cumulative view impact to the neighborhood. He felt his view in that regard is supported by the findings of the City Council 20 years ago. He disagreed with comments that the Planning Commission’s decisions are always subjective, as decisions should not be made that are inconsistent with prior decisions. He did not see how what the City Council did 20 years ago is different from what the Planning Commission is facing today, as he felt this was discussing the very same finding on the very same street in regards to cumulative view impact. Further, that decision was made at a time when homes were allowed to be built up to 30 feet in height, not 26 feet that is allowed today.
Commissioner Lewis could not agree with staff’s assessment that this addition would cause significant view impairment with respect to specific properties or on a cumulative basis. He felt that the opportunity to improve the neighbors views by removing the trees is an opportunity the Commission should not overlook.
Chairman Knight stated that he had an issue with the bulk and mass of the house at the last meeting and the reduction of the bulk and mass is rather minimal, and he still has an issue with the project. Regarding the view, he understood the points raised by staff but he also understood the comments made by the Commissioners. He stated that the best thing for this project would be to start over again with a more modest second story addition and there is room in the backyard closer to the house to put additional space on the ground floor. Therefore, he could not support the project as present. He felt the trees are a separate issue, and there is an Ordinance in place to deal with the trees. Regarding previous City Council decisions, he explained that he looks at each case individually and without knowing all of the facts regarding the case he could not use the City Council decision as his standard for making decisions.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-58 thereby approving the Height Variation as recommended in staff’s alternate suggestion no. 1 with the added language that all trees on the property be trimmed to a height of 16 feet, seconded by Commissioner Perestam. Approved (6-1) with Chairman Knight dissenting.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:45 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short break to 8:55 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (cont)
2. General Plan Amendment, Coastal Specific Plan Amendment, Zone Change, Tentative Tract Map, Coastal Permit, Variance, Environmental Assessment, Grading Permit and Height Variation (Case No. ZON2005-00536 and SUB2005-00536 et al): Nantasket Drive
Director Rojas began by explaining the Planning Commission has previously had a discussion on the proposed land use applications for this application, and this discussion will now center on the Height Variation and Grading Permit, and proposed construction on the subject site. He explained that both of those applications require a neighborhood compatibility review and a view analysis, however in this instance, view analysis was also taken from non single-family residential units. He explained that there were a series of discussions between staff and the City Attorney regarding the view analysis and staff relied on the City Attorney to review the current Code, Guidelines, and finding language to make an interpretation and then use that interpretation to conduct the view analysis. He explained that the City Attorney’s interpretation came down to the Height Variation findings dealing with view protection, which says that the project does not significantly impair a view from another parcel. The City Attorney determined that staff should go into each structure and identify which unit has the best and most important view within each structure. He noted that staff’s decisions are always based on what is observed out in the field and not what is depicted in a photograph. He also noted that staff assesses the view based on what is there today. He explained that if a view is taken over a vacant property, and any future buildings on that property are not factored into the view analysis.
Commissioner Karp asked how many parcels comprise the Villa apartment complex.
Associate Planner Sohn stated that the Villa apartments consist of five parcels.
Commissioner Lewis asked staff if the Planning Commission was bound to follow the City Attorney’s recommendation regarding how to determine views from the apartments.
Director Rojas answered that if the Planning Commission has questions regarding the City Attorney’s advice they can refer their questions to the City Attorney.
Commissioner Tetreault asked if there could be more than one structure on a parcel from which a view can be taken.
Director Rojas answered that there may be views from different structures on one parcel, however the City Attorney recommended staff identify one best and most important view from each structure.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he spent quite a bit of time reading 17.02.040, and in looking at the City Attorney’s position any parcel and any structure in the City, regardless of its zoning, is afforded view protection. He stated that would include commercial, institutional, and cemetery. He stated the only time the Code speaks of residential is when discussing a structure that has had a Height Variation granted to it or was built before incorporation. He asked if that is the City Attorney’s position.
Director Rojas did not believe that was the City Attorney’s position because there is wording in the Ordinance about “residence”.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that, as far as he could see, the word “residence” appears in the Ordinance seven times and the word “structure” appears many more times than that. He also noted that “structure” is defined in the Ordinance while “residence” is not. He noted that the Ordinance says that any structure on a parcel can have its view protected as long as it has not been granted a Height Variation and the view is not in the area above 16 feet. He felt that if the City Attorney is talking about strictly interpreting the plain language of the Ordinance, then the City is talking about gas stations having view protection rights. He was sure that was not the intent of the legislation as passed by the residents. He felt that in interpreting the Ordinance in this way for this project, it would raise questions in the future on future projects.
Director Rojas did not think the City Attorney was referring to all structures, but rather all residential structures.
Associate Planner Sohn presented the staff report, briefly explaining the scope of the project. She explained that the proposed houses range from 6,738 square feet to 6,887 square feet and will be greater than the neighborhood average by over 3,800 square feet. Regarding bulk and mass, Associate Planner Sohn explained that staff felt that the houses on lots 1 and 2 have been designed in a manner to mitigate the potential concerns for bulk and mass. However, staff does not believe that the residences on lots 3, 4, and 5 were designed in a manner to mitigate the bulk and mass. She explained that the horizontal mass proposed for these three houses along with the two-story entry tower and the fully exposed upper and lower level floors make the proposed size and bulk and mass more apparent. She then discussed the Height Variation application, explaining staff conducted a series of view analyses from three different sites, the first being homes along Channelview Court. She stated that staff determined that the homes on Channelview Court are situated above the grade of the proposed homes and a view of the ocean and Catalina Island will exist over he proposed homes. She then discussed the view analysis done from the Villas apartments. She explained that staff identified unit 334 in structure one as having the best view, and from that unit the view of the ocean looks over the proposed project. Therefore, staff did not feel there would be a significant view impairment caused by the proposed project. She discussed structure 2, noting that staff determined unit 45 as having the best view of the ocean. She displayed a photograph of the view taken from unit 45, noting that the view of the horizon is well above the 16 foot mark of the house on lot 3 of the proposed project. She noted that from lots 4 and 5 the horizon is well above the 16-foot mark, however portions above the 16-foot mark would cause significant view impairment from unit 45. She stated that in structure 3 staff determined that unit 88 contained the best view. She explained that staff determined the horizon line for lot 5 is located above the 16-foot mark and the proposed structure above the 16-foot mark will not cause significant view impairment from this unit. She stated that a view analysis was conducted from the three homes along Beachview Drive and determined that the view of the ocean from 6617 Beachview Drive will be significantly impaired by the proposed structure above the 16-foot mark on lot 2. She stated that staff has made numerous attempts to reach the owner of 6619 Beachview Drive and was not able to make contact with the owners or do a view analysis from inside the home. Therefore, staff conducted view analysis from a location approximately 10 feet towards the proposed project, and as seen from that location staff determined that that portions of the view above 16 feet on lots 2, 3, 4, and 5 will significantly impair the view as seen from 6619 Beachview Drive.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if structure 2 has a third floor.
Associate Planner Sohn answered that structure 2 contains one-story units on the first floor and two story units on the second and third floors, with the living area of the two-story units situated on the lower floor.
Commissioner Ruttenberg questioned staff on the neighborhood compatibility analysis. He understood the fact that the analysis is done only with homes in the same zoning district, however he felt it was a very surprising conclusion for staff to find that these five single family residences are too large for this area when they are dwarfed by the apartment buildings right across the street. He stated that staff is saying these homes are too big because the homes located on Channelview Court, which is much farther away, are smaller and he did not think this comparison made much sense in this situation.
Director Rojas explained that staff’s comparison is subjective and if the Planning Commission wants to include the multi-family apartment units in the twenty closest for comparison, it can do that.
Commissioner Ruttenberg didn’t understand why, when talking about view protection, the apartment buildings are included yet when discussing neighborhood compatibility the apartment buildings are excluded. He felt this was inconsistent.
Director Rojas agreed that it seems inconsistent, however he explained that staff is trying to give the Planning Commission a determination based on all available City Council adopted guidelines and Codes. He stated that while there is no guidance relative to assessing view impacts, there is a specific Guideline for compatibility purposes that directs staff not to compare structures within different zoning districts.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked what the current status is of Terranea and when they are to begin their construction.
Director Rojas stated that Terranea wants to begin construction in January, however they have not yet satisfied their applicable conditions of approval to be issued a grading permit.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if the Planning Commission were still discussing the current issue after Terranea begins construction, if staff’s view on whether or not the Planning Commission can consider the impact of Terranea on view analysis would change.
Director Rojas answered if grading or construction were to start on the hotel he would have to consult the City Attorney before making a determination.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Dana Ireland 1 Sea Cove Drive (applicant) explained that the Villa apartments is considered a conjoined parcel under one tax identification number and one APN number, and that one of these parcels could not be split off and sold. He stated that the best and most important view therefore should be determined for the entire parcel, not for the three individual parcels. He stated that the management company for the Villa apartments controlled what units staff could enter during their site visit, however he felt that per the City Attorney’s direction to find the best and most important view, all units should have been made available to staff. He briefly discussed the scope of the project, noting the grading that will have to be done on each lot. He showed a series of photographs of the neighborhood and the different houses in the neighborhood to show that the proposed houses are compatible with the entire neighborhood. He noted several properties which contain duplexes and explained that in terms of bulk and mass he considered them one house, as they are conjoined and appear to be one house. He showed several renderings of the proposed houses to show how they will appear in terms of bulk and mass and how he felt they were completely compatible with the neighborhood and their attempts to minimize the view impacts to the surrounding neighborhood. He explained that he was proposing the modify the ridge on lot 2 to a by-right height, and noted that both lots 1 and 2, by definition, slope more than 5 percent so they become a sloping lot and have a 16 foot high ridge and bottom out at a 30 foot height.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if they felt the house proposed on lot 1 is at a by-right height.
Associate Planner Sohn explained that staff considers lot 1 a pad lot and the proposed height of the structure on that lot exceeds the 16 / 20 by right height limit for residential structures, which is why the applicant has applied for a height variation application for lot 1.
Commissioner Perestam asked Mr. Ireland why he doesn’t build all the homes at the by-right height.
Mr. Ireland answered that this is an opportunity to have a panoramic view and if they were to build these as a single story home they buyer would immediately come to the City with an application to build a second story, because the views from the second story are spectacular.
Dan Bolton (Bolton Engineering) 707 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates stated that the existing grade is sloped approximately 10 percent and lot 2 is sloped approximately 8 percent, and therefore he considers them sloping lots.
Greg Delgado 11 Lariat Lane, Rolling Hills Estates, stated that he is the builder for the project and available to answer any questions.
Michael Woodward 1999 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles stated he is an attorney representing the Villa apartments. He stated that there is a definition in the Code for “residence” which he quoted from the Code. He also defined “parcel” as defined in the Code. He agreed with the City Attorney that the apartments are entitled to view protection. He stated that he understands the 16-feet by right and is not disputing that, however he was concerned about anything over 16 feet and also the building up of the existing grade that would cause portions of the structure to exceed 16 feet.
Vice Chairman Gerstner asked Mr. Woodward if he had any knowledge regarding the parcels and if they were indeed conjoined and considered one parcel.
Mr. Woodward answered that he did not have any knowledge of that, and he felt that they are separate and distinct parcels, as they each have their own parcel number
Commissioner Tetreault asked Mr. Woodward if he agreed with the City Attorney’s interpretation that there is a single unit per structure of the Villas apartments that has the best and most important view which can be protected, or did he feel that every residence within the structure is afforded view protection.
Mr. Woodward answered that he has read the language carefully and he understands where the City Attorney came up with her interpretation, however he feels there are other units in the structure that also have best and most important views.
Commissioner Tetreault asked Mr. Woodward if he agreed that there can be only a single from a single view structure on a single parcel.
Mr. Woodward answered that he felt there can be multiple structures on a parcel with the view taken from the primary living area with each residence.
Chairman Knight referred to the packet Mr. Woodward submitted to the Planning Commission and the comments made about the loss of parking. He asked Mr. Woodward if the applicant’s parcel was available at one time for the owners of the apartment complex to buy for parking purposes.
Mr. Woodward answered that issue was before his time, as the current owner of the apartment complex bought the property this year.
Michael Lamonte, Pacific Property Company, 2600 Michaelson Drive, Irvine stated that staff came out to the property to take pictures for the view analysis, however some of the units were not available to go into to take pictures as they were not allowed access by the residents. He explained the pictures were taken through a four-foot window from the confines of the living room, and felt there are approximately eleven units that will be impacted by the proposed project. He felt that the City Attorney should consider looking at the views from each individual unit from within each structure, as there are many other significant views from many other apartments that will be impacted by this project. He stated there are eight different apartment buildings with five different addresses on the properties.
Bob Kennis, Pacific Property Company, stated that he has no objection to a residential development at the proposed site, his objection is to the need for the height variation and the mass and scale of the homes. He felt that looking out from the apartment one will see a wall going down Nantasket Drive that create a significant view barrier to the residents of the Villas apartments. He felt the developer could modify the project to lessen these view impairments by reducing the height of the houses to 16 feet. He noted that a representative from Pacific Property Company was not part of the meeting between the City Attorney and the Developer when discussing the view issues from the Villas apartments.
Chairman Knight asked Mr. Kennis if he agreed or disagreed with the City Attorney’s interpretation of the apartments and the view impact.
Mr. Kennis answered that he has not analyzed the interpretation and cannot answer the question.
Dave Emenheiser 6620 Channelview Court stated he is the president of the Seabluff HOA. He stated that he felt this proposal is an overdevelopment of the site. He stated that there is a golf safety issue that comes into play as well as a parking impact. He explained that there are, at any given time, 95 to 105 cars on the street and this development will cause more cars to be dumped into his neighborhood. He was very concerned about the early neighborhood consultation process and the necessary signatures. He asked that the staff produce the document and certify the signatures or at the very least table this discussion until this issue can be resolved, as this strikes at the credibility of the proposal.
Vice Chairman Gerstner asked Mr. Emenheiser to clarify his concerns regarding the signatures required in the early neighborhood consultation process.
Mr. Emenheiser explained that there are 3 homes on Seacove in the 100-foot radius and 3 homes on Beachview within 100-foot radius. He stated that there are 2 owners on Seacove and 2 owners on Beachview in the audience who said they did not sign the early neighborhood consultation letter. Therefore, he felt the Planning Commission should be concerned about the accuracy of how many people actually signed the letter.
Commissioner Karp referred to the minutes of the September 26th meeting where he asked Mr. Emenheiser if he would be opposed to any development at the property and he answered that he would be opposed to any development on the property. Commissioner Karp asked Mr. Emenheiser if that is still his position.
Mr. Emenheiser answered that he is still opposed to any development on the applicant’s property.
Commissioner Perestam asked Mr. Emenheiser if he felt the apartments should be included or excluded in assessing neighborhood compatibility and views.
Mr. Emenheiser answered that there are many factors to consider along with neighborhood compatibility, such as density. He was not able to answer if the apartments should be excluded or included in terms of neighborhood compatibility and view analysis.
Suzanne Wright 6430 Seacove Drive stated she is also representing her mother who lives at 6580 Seacove Drive. She stated that she wanted to look at the bigger picture and not just focus on the minute details. She stated that Rancho Palos Verdes formed a city to preserve the rural environment and not become a high-density city. She stated that the Villas are a legal non-conforming use that pre-existed incorporation of the City. However, she stated there are real people living at the Villas who should have their views preserved. She did not think it was correct to say the Villas is like one big house and one unit has the best and most important view. She felt that any unit with a view has a best and most important view. She did not think the Villas should be considered when discussing neighborhood compatibility, as the Villas are a legal non-conforming use. She felt that the proposed development is much too dense for the neighborhood, pointing out the amount of open space and recreational space available in the neighborhood. She did not think the proposal presented by the developer has anything to do with the General Plan and the overall vision of Rancho Palos Verdes to be a beautiful, pristine, and rural area to live.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Ms. Wright if she realized that the current proposal is actually down sizing what could possibly be constructed on this property, which is zoned commercial.
Ms. Wright stated that she is aware of the zoning on the property, however she feels that historically this zoning was a mistake, as it is a little piece of property left over when everything else was developed. She stated that if someone came in with a commercial development, she would oppose it based on the history of what this property was originally supposed to be.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Ms. Wright if she was opposed to anything being built on the property.
Ms. Wright stated she has no problem making this property residential, but what she is opposed to would be a residential wall of homes that needs four different variances to be built.
Commissioner Karp asked Ms. Wright what she would like to see built on the property.
Ms. Wright answered that she would like to see some beautiful homes built on the property with some space in between them. She envisioned single story homes at a lesser density on the property.
Bipin Bajania 6615 Beachview Drive stated that pictures were taken from his kitchen area, however he has a beautiful library area on the second floor where the family spends most of its time and that is where he felt the pictures should have been taken from. He stated that when these houses are built he will have a view of a giant wall rather than the ocean. He did not think it was right that the developer make money at his expense.
Chairman Knight explained there is nothing in the Code that attaches a monetary value to a view, however in the Code there is a protection of the views for the general welfare of the community.
Mr. Monaco stated that his position with respect to his opposition to the development is not only the economic impact to the value of his property but the development also impairs his view that he currently has.
Dana Ireland (in rebuttal) displayed a computer model showing the view from apartment 45 with his house on lot 3 and the Terranea resort and casitas behind that. He stated that clearly the ridgeline of his homes are below that of the Terranea resort and casitas. He explained that Terranea has a by right height of 153 feet and possibly tower heights of 168 feet, and showed a slide of lot 4 explaining that all of the water seen will be blocked by Terranea. He asked when does that right transfer to Terranea and when does that right leave the Villas, even though he did not think the Villas have that right. He acknowledged that the flagging at the site is confusing and noted that the area will be re-flagged and each house will be flagged in it’s own distinctive color. He stated that for neighborhood compatibility the 20 closest homes is the absolute minimum, not the maximum, and when in a heterogeneous neighborhood such as this the analysis should go much further and broader than the 20 closest homes.
Commissioner Lewis asked Mr. Ireland if he had any part in the signature gathering process for his project.
Mr. Ireland answered that he had helped in gathering the needed signatures, meeting early and often to get these signatures. He noted that there are some residents, such as Mr. Emenheiser and Mr. Nelson, whom he has met with often but will not sign the early neighborhood consultation document. He stated that if additional work needs to be done, he will do it.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Mr. Ireland to make sure he modifies the silhouette for lot 2, since he has indicated it will be changing.
Vice Chairman Gerstner suggested painting the elevation of what will be the finished grade at the base of the poles for clarification of the grading.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp stated that he has a map from the Villas apartments with red lines marked on them. He asked staff to verify the height those lines are marked at so he can better understand their presentation. He also agreed with the suggestions to re-silhouette lot 2 and paint the bottom of the poles to clarify the grading.
Chairman Knight asked staff to clarify the question as to whether the Villas property is one parcel or three parcels.
Director Rojas clarified that there was a meeting between the City Attorney and Mr. Ireland, at the request of Mr. Ireland, as he wanted to understand the City Attorney’s determination. He stressed that it was not a meeting with Mr. Ireland to come up with a determination, but rather to explain the determination after it had been made. He stated that at that meeting Mr. Ireland raised the issue that he felt these parcels have been tied, however neither staff nor the City Attorney has seen any evidence from Mr. Ireland to suggest that this has been done. He stated that based on the recorded tract map, it shows individual parcels, and that is how staff is looking at the property. He stated that staff will attempt to clarify this question.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff if there was anything in the Code that directs them to analyze the 20 closest homes during their neighborhood compatibility analysis, or if they can analyze more or less than 20 homes.
Director Rojas explained that staff is sensitive to consistency when doing their analyses of different projects and even though the neighborhood compatibility handbook states that the analysis is to include a minimum of 20 homes in the same zoning district, staff only analyzes the minimum of 20 closest homes in the same zoning district for consistency from project to project.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he would be interested in expanding the analysis to the five or six homes on Seacove Drive, west of the park, as they are large homes close to the proposed project. He acknowledged that the homes are not in the same zoning district, however the neighborhood is a very disparate neighborhood and it is not realistic not to include the homes on Seacove Drive in the neighborhood compatibility analysis.
Commissioner Ruttenberg agreed, however he did not think it was necessary for staff to do the work, as the outcome is already known. He stated that one of the speakers who lives in that neighborhood has already said the homes are 7,000 to 8,000 square feet.
Commissioner Tetreault agreed, however he noted that these are very big homes on very large lots with different lot coverage and he would be interested in knowing about these homes.
Commissioner Karp agreed that these homes need to be included, but he agreed with Commissioner Tetreault that staff should do the analysis so they will be included in the record.
Commissioner Perestam felt that if the homes on Seacove are going to be included then the apartment buildings should also be included in the neighborhood compatibility analysis, as they are closer and in the same zoning district.
Chairman Knight disagreed, as he did not think comparing apartment buildings to single-family homes was practical and did not understand what purpose such an analysis would serve and what the value would be.
Director Rojas asked the Commission to clarify if they wanted to know the square footage of the units or the buildings.
Commissioner Perestam felt that it would be helpful to know the square footage of each of the four buildings that front Nantasket Drive.
Chairman Knight asked staff, at the next meeting, to address the drainage in terms of how it affects and impacts the riparian corridor at Terranea.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he has misread a section of the Code earlier in the evening in regards to the definition of a structure, noting that the Code does say that when looking at view impairment it is from structures utilizes for living purposes. Therefore, he wanted to retract his statements that views can be taken from any structure, even a gas station.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to continue the public hearing to allow staff to address the questions and concerns raised by the Planning Commission, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (7-0).
Director Rojas stated that this item will be heard again on January 9, 2007.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
5. Minutes of October 10, 2006
It being after 11:00, per the Planning Commission rules, the minutes were automatically continued to the November 28, 2006 meeting.
6. Minutes of October 24, 2006
The minutes were automatically continued to November 28, 2006.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
7. Pre-agenda for the meeting of November 28, 2006.
Director Rojas stated that he spoke with the City Attorney during the recess and the person making the presentation on the AB 1234 training will not be available on December 12th. Therefore, it would be best to keep the training scheduled for November 28th and the two Commissioners who cannot make the training discuss with staff when they will be able to make that training up.
The Planning Commission agreed to have the training on November 28th with Commissioner Perestam and Chairman Knight agreeing to make arrangements to have the training at another time.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 a.m.